FAA Considering Raising Pilots' Retirement Age

FAA administrator Marion Blakey ordered a forum of airline, labor and medical experts to recommend whether the United States should raise the age limit.


The government is considering raising the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

The agency said the change is prompted by the United Nations organization that governs aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organization. ICAO will increase the international standard to 65 on November 23.

FAA administrator Marion Blakey ordered a forum of airline, labor and medical experts to recommend whether the United States should raise the age limit.

Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, will co-chair the group. He said the FAA is considering the change only because Congress is likely to order it before the end of this year's session.

"They definitely should not allow Congress to be dictating a safety rule," Woerth said.

ALPA, the largest pilots' union, opposes changing the mandatory retirement age, though Woerth said only a thin majority of pilots want to keep it. Some pilots want the retirement age raised because they've lost their airline pensions.

Woerth said ICAO didn't analyze the safety impact of changing the retirement age.

Under current international standards, foreign pilots older than 60 may fly into the United States as co-pilots. When the ICAO change takes effect, foreign pilots will be able to fly in the United States up to age 65, as long as they're accompanied by a co-pilot under 60 and they undergo medical testing every six months.

The FAA forum has 60 days to report its findings.

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